Skip to main content

Getting started with Google Voice

Hey everybody. Jerry back this week with with some tips for Google Voice.  If you're not using Google Voice, you've surely heard people talking it up, with good reason.  Google Voice runs great on most smartphones, and like most things Google, it runs incredibly well on Android phones.

Hit the break for some hints about getting an invite and setting it all up so you can enjoy the convenience of visual voice mail and a central number across multiple phones.

What exactly IS Google Voice?

Think of Google Voice as your own personal switchboard.  You give someone the 10-digit number Google assigns to your Google Voice account, and when they call that number, it rings on your phone.  Or phones.  Or the one phone you specify.  Oh, it has has a killer voice mail system too.

I know what you're thinking, and yes, it's very cool.  Thanks, Google.

It's also a free service, but check with your phone company and mobile provider to make sure you know of any fees they have for call forwarding. Also, for now Google Voice is for US customers only.  We're all waiting for Google to open things up for the rest of the world, here's hoping it's soon.

Sounds great.  Sign me up!

Unfortunatley it's not that simple yet.  Google Voice is still in beta, just like gmail stayed in beta for a million years or so.  Like gmail used to be, it requires you to be invited.  The good thing is that getting an invite isn't any harder than it was with gmail.  Google isn't trying to keep it out of our hands, they just need to control the roll-out numbers. 

Here's my patented guaranteed way to get a Google Voice invite. (Note: My guarantees are not guaranteed, and are not valid in any way. :p)

I'll answer the question before it gets asked.  I'm sending you to CrackBerry, because they don't mind polite and friendly threads asking for invites to Google Voice, or other invitation only services. Besides, there's a lot of friendly and familiar faces over there, and you may even learn something.  Just remember, when you get any invites to send out, spread the love if you can.

When you get the invitation in your inbox, click the link and you'll find yourself at a standard Google login page.  I've put a pic below, in case you're the careful type and want to know that what you're seeing is the real deal.

Accepting your Google Voice invite

Fill out your password, hit the Sign In link and you're in. You now have a decision to make, but it's an easy one.  In the image below, which is what you'll see as soon as you sign in, you have two choices.  Just pick the one marked Choose a number.  It's just as free, and offers so much more than just using your existing number for voice mail only, which you can still do anyway.

Choose wisely!

Now you need to pick a phone number.  Consider any friends with landlines or expensive long distance fees, and pick a number that will be local to the people who would call you most.  Just enter your desired area code, as well as any preferred phrase or set of numbers and search.  When you find one that suits, click continue.

Choosing a Google Voice number

Enter a PIN number, and accept the terms.  Go on and read them if you like, we'll wait.

Choosing your PIN

Now you have to enter a phone you will use for forwarding any incoming calls to your Google Voice number. Use the phone you want visual voicemail on if you're not going to use any of the advanced features of Google Voice.  And that's OK.  You can always go back later and change the settings.

Choose your forwarding number

Now Google needs to verify that you really are at the number you entered.  They give you a code, call you at the number you gave, and have you enter it after the tone.  You know the drill here, just like calling a business' switchboard and entering in an extension number. 

Verifying your number

That's it.  You now have a Google Voice number.

Ready to go!

You'll be sent to a welcome page, be sure to read the Tips for Getting Started section near the bottom.

Welcome to Google Voice

When you're done reading, jump to your inbox to see a sample Google Voice message welcoming you.  This is what your voicemail is gonna look like too.  Tres Cool.

Google Voice inbox

Putting the Google Voice app on your phone

Hit the market, and search for Google Voice.  Make sure you install the official Google Voice client written by Google.  Double check if you like by looking at the pic below.

Official Google Voice client Android OS

The official Google Voice client

Install it, then find it in your app drawer and run it.  It walks you through, and is really easy to set up.  Depending on your carrier, you may have to go back to your computer to set your voice mail.  Don't worry, that's easy too.  There are no screenshots for this section, because all my numbers are already set up and Uncle G only lets you use a number once.  Honestly, you won't need any - Google walks you through each step and it really is easy.

Next you should set up your notifications, both from the Google Voice website and the phone app itself.  Lets tackle the phone app first.  Open the settings, look through them then look at the two images below.  Copy them exactly to get real time notifications from the Google Voice app when you get a voice mail.  Of course choose your own notification sound.

Google Voice settings one

Google Voice settings two

Google Voice settings for the Android Client

With this set up, you never use your Google Voice number to initiate an outgoing call, and missed calls are sync'd with the app and you get a real time push notification when someone leaves you a voice mail.

With this set up you also can give out your Google Voice number for people to SMS you.  Yep.  A friend can text your Google Voice number, and you'll get a push notification and the message appears in your inbox in the Google Voice app.  You can just reply right from the app, and your Google Voice number is the number the SMS was sent from.  Perfect for giving out a number to receive messages, while keeping the number from your carrier private.  And can you say FREE TEXTS? I <3 free. This just gets cooler and cooler.  Well worth rounding up an invite.

We're not quite finished.  You need to hit the settings at the Google Voice website and decide how and/or if you want Google to notify you directly when you receive a message in your inbox.  Open the settings, and hit the Voicemail & SMS tab.  Now look at the image below.

Google Voice website settings

The highlighted area is what we're concerned about.  The way it's set up in my example, I get a regular SMS through my carrier as well as an email to my GMail account.  Yeah, that's stupid, but this is an old Google Voice number I don't use anymore and I'd like to be notified if someone still tries to call or message me on it.  You can just uncheck the respective box to halt notifications and set it as you like.

Some advanced nerd-approved functions

Everyone meet Duvi.  He's a total cell phone guru and probably has his own SAR rating.  He's also one of those Crackberry army moderators we talked about, and is an active member all across the Smartphone Experts spectrum.

I'll bet Duvi has at least a gazillion active numbers at any time.  OK, maybe not a jazillion, but I'll bet he has more than one. He can set up Google Voice so that any calls that come in via the Google Voice number will ring the particular phone he specifies.  If you have more than one number, or are running your own business, I don't have to tell you how handy that could be.

But wait.  It gets cooler.  The benefit of using a Google powered phone with Google's services are the special ways things can get tied together. 

Just have a look at a Quick app from Phil about Google Voice Locations .

And check out what Jared has to say about a Google Voice desktop app!

Wowza.  Pardon my French, but Google Voice kicks butt.

As always folks, hit the comments or the forums with any questions, and I'll see ya next week!


Jerry Hildenbrand
Jerry Hildenbrand

Jerry is an amateur woodworker and struggling shade tree mechanic. There's nothing he can't take apart, but many things he can't reassemble. You'll find him writing and speaking his loud opinion on Android Central and occasionally on Twitter.

  • Thanks for the hints on tracking down an invite...I feel like I've become a beggar looking for one and I'm about to resort to drastic measures ($). If anyone wants to be a good samaritan please shoot me a pm! :)
  • I love Google Voice for voice mail. I find that when I receive calls from GV that there is a delay in the speech from the person I'm speaking to. As that get's better then GV will be my full time phone number.
  • I think the app sucks.. unless u can tell me how to mass delete messages from the app.. on the desktop u can check each box and delayed can't with app. I love the service but didn't realize you can puck your number it just have me a random number. Guess ill try another invite..
  • I would love a GV invite smjeninngs2318 at gmail dot com
  • Would you invite me please?
  • ......
  • i have 6 GV invites, i will give it to the first 6 people that pm me.
  • Can't PM, but would really appreciate an invite if there are any still available. Dale.Hedrick (at) Thanks!
  • I would love a GV invite smjeninngs2318 at gmail dot com
  • i was wondering if you have any more invites left
  • I would love an invite. Please send to clynnt616 [at] google mail. Thank you!
  • Please invite DavidSmithIsAwesome at,
  • Please invite Jphoneman2k (at)
  • Oh yea its voice to text is awful. That needs a lot of work
  • One HUGE thing you forgot to mention: If you have GV linked with your current number every time someone leaves a VM it deducts a minute from your call plan
  • Google Voice is my favorite Android app by far. I know several people who bought Android instead of iPhone primarily because Google Voice works so much better on Android.
  • I don't know how many other BlackBerry users read this...but the instructions above are mostly the same... The BIGGEST difference though for BlackBerry is that when you text from the GVoice app, IT IS NOT FREE! You will still be charged for every single SMS sent from the app as if you did so normally. There is a way, however, to get around this. Turn off SMS forwarding through the website and instead have it email your SMS messages to you. Personally, I have them filtered to skip the inbox so they don't clutter it. Your device will pick them up as emails and you can respond to them by replying normally, just remember to delete your original text and signature if you want a clean SMS reply. Google Voice will convert your email response back to SMS for the other person. This way, for you, all SMS is technically email, thus on your data plan.'s a bit annoying and I wish Google would improve the BB app, but alas, Android is their baby and gets all the perks first...which is perhaps why I'm holding out for the Evo 4G!
  • I would also love to have a GV invite if anyone cares to help me out. Thanks a bunch!
  • I love Google voice and use it all the time for text messaging over wifi when I don't have a signal . However I really wish I was able to make phone calls over widow with it , then it would be perfect !
  • So when i was signing up i actually hit the voicemail only im stuck with..any one know if i can switch it...Or Aam i screwed
  • On the Google Voice website - Settings>>phones>>Add a Google Voice number to your account. Be sure to reactivate your voicemail!
  • Be sure you read the full description of GV on google's site. Go thru the tutorials. Calling via your Google Voice number is going to use your minutes. In the future this might change and only use your dataplan, but as of now when you call via GV it uses your minutes to make the call to google's server, and that server then calls your party. Therefore you can't get by without a long distance calling plan. When someone calls your GV number, it gets relayed to your phone. Since we don't pay for incoming calls in North America; no problem. There are elaborate and problematic ways to get free outbound and inbound calls via your GV number, involving additional applications to install. These are a stopgap solution at best in my opinion. GV is not a way to avoid having a long distance plan. Its a routing an convenience service more than anything. International calling is way cheaper with GV too. But then its cheaper yet with skype for fring.
  • If I could call the GV number for free it would be awesome, but as incoming and outgoing calls through GV would use my minutes, I don't use it except for people I don't know that will need to reach me anywhere. Now if I had an unlimited voice plan, I would be using it for sure, since I'm on sprints free mobile to mobile plan, it's not getting used at all.
  • anybody have an invite please?????
  • i would greatly appreciate an invite
    thanks in advance
  • I have 2 Google Voice numbers, but only one of them can be forwarded to my cell. Google Voice automatically disconnects the current forwarding. Is there a way to get around this so that 2 GV numbers can be linked to the same forwarding number at the same time? This is from an email google voice sends when you use the same forwarding number. Please note that the forwarding number (555) 555-5555 was deleted from your Google Voice account ( because it was claimed and verified by another Google Voice user.
  • I've never found a way to do it, and trust me I've looked. Best thing I could find to do is to have GV send a mail or SMS like my example above.
  • I have 2 GV numbers also and have found the way around this issue. Just set one up to forward as your cell phone and the other set up to forward to the same number but instead list it as your home or work phone. This works flawlessly for me. Just keep in mind you can't accept text messages to be forwarded to a work or home phone, so pick the number you want to receive texts from and set that one to forward as cell. For me this works, as one GV number is for business (no texting) and the other is personal (texting capable).
  • Does anyone have a invite that i can use please thank you very much
  • I just got my invite cant wait to get my Droid Incredible
    Thanks again for the invite
  • Thank you for the invite sntgro
  • I would very much appreciate a Google Voice invitation. DanielSLinville at gmail dot com Thanks in advance!!!
  • Hey if anyone has an extra invite that would be much appreciated! :)....... "tina.louise87 *at*" Thanx
  • deleted - see as reply above
  • If anyone wants to donate a Google voice invite I would greatly appreciate it I am in the service heading to Iraq next month and would like to get a invite before I go. please send to Thx, Private James Vetter Go USA!
  • I would love an invite. Please send to dfclin073 [at] google mail. Thank you!
  • I have a problem. Finally got an invite from the students invite site, so I (excitedly btw) click the link only to find that because I'm in Puerto Rico I can't use it. Is there any way for me to get Google Voice? An alt account or anything? I mean, PR is an American territory...
  • I'd also love an invite at
  • It was usefull for some I'm sure but didn't find what I was looking for
  • hey guys..
    I tried my best without an invite..
    y don't you try
    even send me anvite to
  • if u want a google voice number for free wherever u are try out the following